QRP Works! & 2000 Days - Keynote # 3/4, 2000
One of the hardest things about QRP is convincing other hams that it does work, even if you have only simple wire antennas and live in a relatively poor location. If you're one of those hams who is in a situation where QRP with simple antennas is the only alternative, read on.
The situation above describes me exactly. I run a maximum of 5 watts output, at times going much lower than that. On 160-30M I use a 110 foot long random wire with many twists and bends. Most of it is in my attic with several feet at the end out in my back yard. On 20M I have a bent dipole in my attic. For 17-12M I use a 15M vertical dipole mounted on the side of my house. Finally on 10M a sloping dipole on my porch roof. My very small town lot is in the middle of town along the Allegheny River in a valley with surrounding hills at elevations of 2 to 6 degrees.
After reading that, those of you not familiar with my QRP work would think that I'd be lucky to get some QSO's with my neighboring states, and not much more. That's because outside the QRP fraternity the only news heard about QRP work is how so and so worked a station 5000 miles away with just 5 watts of power. Statements like that make it seem that working someone with QRP is a freak occurrence that only happens when conditions are just right or perhaps when the station using QRP has a huge antenna system to greatly boost his ERP.
I'm writing this particular column to debunk that impression of QRP. I've just completed something that shows that QRP will work day in and day out, and can be used as a mainstream means of ham radio operation.
Despite my situation described in the second paragraph, I've managed to make at least one QRP QSO each day since August 5, 1994. That streak reached 2000 days on January 25, 2000 and included 25,246 QRP QSO's. Among those QSO's are 4971 DX QSO's with 166 (maybe 167 if YA4A was not a pirate) countries. I've worked all 50 states many times over. I guess you could say 25 times over since my least worked state is Wyoming with 25 QSO's. Using the same reasoning, I've gotten WAC 62 times over with Oceania being the least worked continent with 62 QSO's. I've worked Europe 3,132 times for the highest continental total after North America's 21,353 QSO's.
Some DX was worked on 817 of the 2000 days. On 9 of those days, I worked more than 100 DX stations in various DX contests. My largest QSO total for one day came in the 1999 SS contest with 416 contacts.
Of the 40 CQ zones of the world, I contacted 34 during the streak. Most of the 6 unworked zones are in SE Asia.
I think those statistics reinforce my statement about operating with QRP. The streak is continuing as I write this, and I just made a QSO on the 2,039th consecutive day. In addition to the regular streak, I also have somewhat of a DX streak going. From November 23, 1999 through February 11, 2000, I worked some DX each day. That's 81 straight days of DX. After missing February 12th because of a severe geomagnetic storm that pretty much wiped out the bands, I resumed the streak again on the 13th. Now I've worked some DX on 102 of the past 103 days including a QSO with the current Clipperton Island DXpedition. Perhaps that secondary streak is even more of an endorsement for QRP than my main streak.
I'm not the only one doing this, either. My friend Corb, K8UCL is in a similar situation. Although his location in the flat land of Ohio is vastly superior to my valley location, he also uses simple indoor antennas. With just 2 watts of power output, he recently reached the 150 countries worked plateau.
Also in an Email received a few days ago, Aron N1ODL writes "Thought I would drop you a line to let you know about my experience during the DXCC last weekend. I am always looking for a good travel antenna to use with my wilderness SST-20 when I am on the road or vacation. Have heard lots of good and bad about the ISOTRON antennas, so thought I would bite the bullet and purchase on and give it a try. What the hay, the price was not that bad. When I got the antenna, I thought I made a major mistake. To look at it, you would think is was a gloryfied dummyload. Decided to give it a good workout in the DXCC last weekend, so stuck it on a PVE pipe and stuck it in the corner of my family room, which is in the second floor of my home. I figured I would I would get a few local contacts and call it a day. Well, to my suprise, I made contact with the following DX hams. this list does not include the stateside contacts. HA3PT, LA8W, SK3W, EA5DCL, VV7X(have not been able to confirm this one yet) NP3G, PY7IQ, WP3R,Now these will not seem great to the real DX hounds, but these contacts were made on the ISOTRON-20 antenna INSIDE of my house, using my Wilderness SST at 2 watts with a ZM-2 tuner."
Reiterating my point, QRP with simple antennas does work. Oh, there are limitations to be sure. I'll never make it to the DXCC Honor Roll using this setup. I'll never reach 100 countries on 160M, and maybe not on 80M either, but I will definitely get DXCC on 40 through 10M. I already have 100 or more on 30, 20, 15, and 10M and I'm in the 90's on 40 and 17M. 12M is the slow runner in the race now with only about 70 countries. I probably will get those last 6 zones to achieve WAZ, but it will not be easy. In fact, 2 days ago I worked JT1DA for my first zone 23.
Despite these and other shortcomings, I'm having a ball with my simple setup and you can too. If you're having problems with TVI, RFI, etc., keep in mind that with my 5 watts I can watch TV right in my shack while I'm transmitting and not even know that I'm on the air. If you aren't blessed with a good location and don't have the financial resources to move to a better location, just string up what you can for an antenna as I have done here and go after those QSO's. I guarantee you will be successful and have a lot of fun.
Interested in more details about my situation? Visit my web site at home.windstream.net/johnshan/ Contact me via Email or 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. Send me your experiences with QRP. Till next month, 73. -30-